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With how successful this season has been for the San Francisco 49ers, you just can’t help but draw comparisons to the Jim Harbaugh Era. It only makes sense since that was the last time the 49ers were relevant. Initial comparisons to that era were this year’s defense to that of 2011-13.
One comparison that is being overlooked, however, is Deebo Samuel to Anquan Boldin.
It is a rare trait for a wide receiver to be the aggressor and the initiator. That is exactly what Boldin and Samuel have in common. The only difference is that Boldin was more built, which made sense as to why he looked for contact. Samuel on the other hand is a grenade. The guy is a bit small, but will come at you with an explosion of a hit.
Most rookie receivers don’t usually look to play with an aggression to them. Finesse is the typical style of play, which makes Samuel that much more unique because he utilizes both. The aggresive mentality that he brings is the standout trait and being a rookie just makes it more exciting. Even Richard Sherman took notice to the aggressive mentality of Samuel.
“You get some receivers running across the middle and they’re looking for who is going to hit them. Deebo is looking for who he’s gonna hit.” This is one of the reasons why Kyle Shanahan looks to scheme Samuel into open space. So that he can make an impact with a big gainer and possibly set the tone with a hit. Cornerbacks are going to use caution when coming up to tackle him if they’re playing off-coverage.
Deebo Samuel’s 84.4 overall grade was tops among #49ers starters on offense vs. AZ. His 12 missed tackles forced on the year leads all NFL WRs, and his 7.2 yards per reception after the catch is best among all WRs with 25+ receptions.
4:37 AM – Nov 19, 2019
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Or they are just going to keep their head down and try to deliver a big hit. That is why Samuel is forcing a lot of missed tackles on defenders. That is exactly how Boldin was treated. In fact, Boldin would look to truck hard hitting safeties. The guy was a human wrecking ball, which is odd to describe a receiver. It isn’t just the aggressiveness of Samuel that can be resembled to Boldin. His production is now starting to appear similar with his recent performances.
“He’s one of those guys you love to have in your foxhole.” Said Jimmy Garoppolo in the postgame Sunday. “He just gets banged up out there, keeps coming back, doesn’t even question it or anything. He’s a fighter, man. You love having guys like that on your team.” Now that Samuel is starting to come into his own, the 49ers’ first two picks of this year’s draft look like home runs.
His emergence is also necessary given the questionable status of Emmanuel Sanders going forward. Drawing comparisons to Boldin is already a great sign of Samuel’s development. If he can continue trending upward, then the 49ers receiver group will look dramatically better. That will give Garoppolo a standard set of three viable receiving options, which will only optimize this dynamic offense.